College Council

At its beginning as Nueva Esperanza Center for Higher Education, Rev. Luis Cortés and President David Black formed an advisory body designed to develop the partnership with both institutions' best interests in mind. The College Council has been a policymaking and guiding hand that over the years has led the development of Esperanza College from its initial stages as a program to becoming an established branch campus of Eastern University. Over the years the Council has hired deans who could move this vision forward. In addition, Rev. Danny Cortés has served as Chairman of the Council and is currently Academic Chair of the Eastern University Board of Trustees.


Danny CortesRev. Danny Cortés

Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, Esperanza

Reverend Danny Cortés is the Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at Esperanza, overseeing all educational institutions, workforce development programs, and some administrative function. Over more than a decade at Esperanza, he has also managed the National Programs Department and served as the Chief Administrator at Esperanza Academy. Prior to joining Esperanza’s leadership, he was a program officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts for 10 years. Rev. Cortés has also served as pastor of the First Spanish Baptist Church of Philadelphia. He holds a Master’s degree in divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.


Luis CortesRev. Luis Cortés

President and CEO, Esperanza and Founder of Esperanza College

The Reverend Luis Cortés, Jr. and the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity founded Esperanza in 1987.  Rev. Cortés has three honorary doctorates, a Master’s degree in divinity from Union Theological Seminary, and a Master’s degree in economic development from Southern New Hampshire University. He has served on many boards, including currently the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Eastern Regional Medical Center and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh.  Rev. Cortés has been on advisory committees to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and was featured as one of Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals” in 2005.  Rev. Cortés is the author of several books and has won numerous awards for his work.


Pernell JonesJ. Pernell Jones, MBA

CFO and Vice President for Finance and Operations, Eastern University

Mr. Pernell Jones has over 20 years of leadership experience in higher education. Prior to joining Eastern University, he served as Vice President of Administration / Chief Financial Officer at the College of the Southwest, Vice President for Business Services at Grayson County College, and Vice President of Business Services at San Juan College. Jones earned his MBA from Eastern New Mexico University and his bachelor's in Business Administration, with an emphasis in accounting, from College of the Southwest.


Ronald MatthewsDr. Ronald Matthews

President, Eastern University 

Dr. Ron Matthews has served in leadership positions in higher education for over 35 years. He served as Executive Director of the Fine and Performing Arts Division and Professor at Eastern University before being appointed Eastern University's 10th President. Prior to joining Eastern, he served as Director of Choral Activities at Nyack College, Chair of the Department of Music at Cairn University, and several professional and denominational boards and task forces. He has conducted, recorded and performed in France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and the Vatican. He has released six recordings. Dr. Matthews did his undergraduate work in Church Music and Organ at Westminster Choir College. He received his Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Temple University and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Combs College of Music in Composition with an emphasis in Orchestral Conduction. 


Dr. Thomas Ridington

Senior Vice President for Institutitional Advancement and Growth, Esperanza

As Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Growth at Esperanza, Dr. Tom Ridington provides institutional oversight of Esperanza College. Prior to joining Esperanza, Dr. Ridington served as Executive Vice President for University Relations and New Ventures/Special Assistant to the President of Eastern University. Dr. Ridington previously served Eastern University as Senior Vice President and Vice President for Development, and directed University advancement programs. He also served as institutional partnership liaison with Esperanza College and Open Seminary. Dr. Ridington completed his PhD at the University of Stellenbosch near Cape Town, South Africa. He earned his MAR from Palmer Theological Seminary and his BA from Eastern University. He has consulted with numerous nonprofits and NGOs in fundraising, strategic planning, and governance. He also helped develop several nonprofit organizations dedicated to deriving solutions to hunger, housing, and urban development.


Kent SparksDr. Kenton Sparks

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Eastern University

Dr. Kent Sparks provides leadership for the university’s academic, student affairs, athletics, marketing, and enrollment offices. He has previously served as a professor of Biblical Studies, Vice President for Marketing & Enrollment, Special Assistant to the President, and Assistant Provost. As Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern, he has written books and numerous articles and has served as the regional president for the Society of Biblical Literature. Sparks is an ordained pastor and served on the pastoral staff for a church in Raleigh, NC. Dr. Sparks earned his Master's degree in Hebrew Bible, his Master's in Business Administration, and his Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies.


Emilio MarreroRev. Dr. Emilio Marrero

Former Vice President of National Programs (Esperanza)

Rev. Dr. Emilio Marrero, Jr. serves as Senior Pastor of Berachah Church in Cheltenham, PA where he leads the team towards growing a multicultural church committed to meeting the needs of the community. He holds a Doctor of Ministry from Claremont School of Theology and a Masters of Divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Rev. Marrero served thirty-two years in the military and was responsible for saving the ancient site of Babylon in Al Hillal, Iraq from being looted and stripped of treasures. Following the Navy he served four years as the Vice President of National Programs for Esperanza. He oversaw national outreach; managed multiple grants and projects impacting the Hispanic community in partnership with local churches and agencies in their communities.